Edward de Bono is regarded as the leading international authority in creative thinking. He coined the term ‘lateral thinking’ and is well known for his ’6 hats’ method. It was while dipping into his book ‘Serious Creativity’ that I noticed the section on sources of creativity and thought how interesting it was to investigate where creativity comes from and from what does it originate.
Understanding where the roots of creativity are will help put it in perspective, just as an increased understanding of any process helps us improve our capability in it. I’m hoping that some of these sources will surprise you and maybe even encourage you to utilise them more often. So here goes….Edward de Bono’s Sources of Creativity….
If we do not know the usual way of doing things, the usual solutions or approach then we come up with our own. A fresh approach. If you are not restricted by knowing the constraints in a given situation then you will come up with something novel. It’s difficult to be creative in your own industry – you might be able to be novel in another.
The creativity of experience is really about seeking to build upon and repeat past experiences. We amend, add to or repackage things that we did previously.
Most people who are creative derive their creativity from Motivation. This means a willingness to spend hours instead of minutes coming up with a better way of doing things or taking the time to look at things that no one else has looked at. It’s all about time and effort.
The person who is skilled in tuned judgement does not initiate ideas. They recognise the potential of an idea at an early stage. They base their judgement on feasibility, the market etc… An idea that is developed is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea. Seeing value in an idea is in itself a creative act.
Chance, Accident, Mistake and Madness
I’m sure you can think of a time when things were going along swimmingly but due to a mistake or accident they take a different swing. Many of the greatest advances were the result of mistakes. The first antibiotic, immunology and Columbus heading to the Indies to name but a few. Post-it notes to name a lesser advance This type of creativity takes thinking out of the reasonable and pushes boundaries.
Working within a particular style can generate products which are new but only due to the style being applied. High in practical value but not the same as generating new ideas.
Releasing yourself from fears and inhibitions can generate creativity. This only goes so far though and to be truly useful it is necessary to gain a quick appreciation of new values in order to be of practical sense.
Systematic techniques can be used formally and deliberately to generate new ideas. You’ll have heard of de Bono’s 6 hats for example. The important point about applying techniques is that these techniques can be learned and used.
What do you think? Given you some pause for thought? For creativity? How many of the sources do you currently use?